The James Tatum Foundation for the Arts, Inc., founded in 1987 is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to receive and administer funds for providing educational opportunities and scholarship awards to deserving youth. Since its inception the Foundation has awarded numerous scholarships to youths in all areas of the Arts, including: music, dance, sculpture, painting, and media art form.
The Foundation through cooperative efforts with other institutions has provided financial support to youth and college students to promote individual artistic excellence, enrich school curriculum offering and promote the awareness of jazz music in the community. Through the foundation's Youth Scholarship Program, talented youth are identified and provided a public showcase for recognition and financial awards to assist their artistic studies beyond high school to colleges /universities. Scholarship awardees have been able to advance to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities, including Juilliard School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, Curtis Music Institute, Yale University, Oberlin Music School, U of M School of Music and others.
James Tatum is one of the jazz world's most distinguished Stars. He has a B.A. from Prairie View A&M University and Master's in Music Education Degree from the University of Michigan. Tatum has been involved with music education and jazz education in the Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University and in the Detroit Public School System for over 45 years. He is a member of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) and member of the National Committee of the Black Jazz Caucus.
Tatum has performed with Coleman Hawkins (minor Key of Detroit), Mercer Ellington, and Dr. Billy Taylor. He has performed on programs with Wynton Marsalis at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall and at the Charles Wright Museum with special guest, Milt Jackson (vibraphonist of MJQ). Tatum has composed major jazz works; the Contemporary Jazz Mass, Return of Joshua, and many others. Tatum was named "Musician of the Year" by the Michigan State Senate in February 2001 and received a resolution from the U.S. House of Representatives praising him for his lifelong commitment to promote and establish jazz as a national treasure in the eyes of all Americans. In 2003 he was selected by the Gale Group worldwide Publisher Co. to become a distinguished member of Who's Who Among African Americans in regards to his dedication in jazz education.
James has had a lifelong involvement in educating the public about Jazz. Thus, in his role as lecturer and educator he is pleased to present a variety of musical themes in lecture format including: The History of Jazz, African Influences in Jazz, How to Listen to Jazz and How to Improvise Jazz. These musical demonstrations, which include education about various instruments and the human voice in jazz, encourage audience participation and appeal to all age groups, from pre-school to adult concert attendees and students of music.
James is now in the process of writing a book for non-music instructors teaching the history and art form of jazz in the classroom.